Back to the Birthplace

Four months have passed since I worked at the goat farm. I have traveled to South America, visited family and friends, and transitioned back to living in Northampton, my birthplace.

While working for Susan milking the goats and making cheese, I could not begin to imagine what I might be doing after the New Year. The routines I adopted felt so much a part of me that the thought of leaving the cabin and starting a whole new journey seemed totally surreal. I became part of the farm and each day the idea of leaving felt even further away, although it was frighteningly moving closer.

Waking up to Oliver walking across my face, frying fresh eggs and kale for breakfast, slipping on my muck boots, feeding the chickens, and tending to the goats was my whole life for a long time. Each job I was responsible for eventually became habitual. My muscles remembered each action as if I were programmed the way a young goat kid just knows where to find its mother’s milk.

Farming requires us to use every sense in our bodies. I had to pay attention to weather patterns and temperatures. Staying connected to nature and life cycles is not optional, it is mandatory. My mind tends to do a lot more unnecessary wandering when I am not in the present moment which farming demands.

These last four months were like a test. If I truly want to be a farmer, then I will struggle with not working on a farm for an extended period of time. I remember a friend of mine mentioning how much she missed working the land in February. She had rested, played, caught up with friends and family, and was ready to start another season. Likewise, by mid March, I felt like something crucial was missing from my life.

My situation is a little different because I did some farm work in Argentina where it was summer, so no more than a month had passed since I left the goat farm. Suddenly I was harvesting raspberries and weeding lettuce in February, how bizarre.

I truly miss farming. I miss the long days, bending over to weed rows, hoeing until my neck is sore, squishing potato beetles and tomato horn worms (or throwing them in the brook), shoveling manure, forking hay to the goats, driving a tractor, dumping heavy buckets of milk, getting dirt stuck under my nails and in the cracks of my hands, feeling utterly exhausted by dinner time, eating leftovers, reading a paragraph of a good book, falling asleep, and waking up to do it all over again.

It sure feels good to know what I want in life!

Finally, the farming season will begin again for me in a few days at Old Friends Farm in Amherst. In order to get my fix of agrarian living this April, I have been tending my folk’s garden in the back yard and visiting friends who live and work on farms. The spinach and salad greens are up, despite the dog’s foot print evidence of numerous visits to the compost pile, which is behind where I planted the greens leaving one inch deep tracks in my planting. I planted a row of peas, collards, and beets a few days ago. The kale starts love the warmth of my upstairs bedroom. Soon basil and parsley will show their little cotyledons in my other tray.

It is a very small scale here at the Jacobson-Hardy residence, but it sure feels good to dig ‘til my back hurts and make plans for the new blueberry, raspberry, and asparagus plants. We’ll see how much motivation and time I will have to weed the home garden come June, but who cares when it’s so enjoyable just to be outside, listening to the birds singing in agreement about how happy we all are that spring has arrived. That’s the difference between home gardening and crop production. If all else fails, at least we’ll have some nice flowering weeds along with the reliable poppies and black eyed Susan’s.


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3 responses to “Back to the Birthplace

  1. Diane

    Hi Hannah. It has been awhile since I looked at your blog. Your photographs are beautiful and so are your comments-so honest and endearing to me. Perhaps I will see you at the Amherst Farmers’ Market some Saturday. If I’m not working, I walk over there. I am familiar with the farm you are working at. Thanks-Diane.

  2. Jess Murphy

    Great…thanks, Hannah.

  3. Welcome home, Hannah! I’m sure it feels great to dig your hands into native soil. Hope to see you up our way sometime…xoxo

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